It has been reported that the British Royal Air Force (RAF) conducted an airstrike on an element of soldiers aligned with the Syrian Regime who were threatening to attack coalition forces located near al-Tanf last week. Al-Tanf is the location of a key U.S. military base near the Iraq and Jordanian borders with Syria. The base is where coalition forces train and advise the Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT, Commandos of the Revolution) who combat ISIS as a partner militia.
The location is close to one of the primary border crossing between Iraq and Syria. The second crossing are located to the north in Rojava that links both Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds in their autonomous regions. The last crossing, Albu Kamal, is situated nearly 300 kilometers to the northeast. If one or more of these cross-border corridors came under control by Iranian aligned forces, it would provide a straight shot between Tehran and Lebanon through respectively friendly territory. This has caused concern by various NATO allies and, particularly Israel who is on bad terms with both entities. Both Albu Kamal and al-Tanf have come under attack more frequently over the past month, a possible sign of Iran making a play for control of the crossings with the use of proxy forces.
The RAF fighter jet that targeted the “unidentified force” with a 500-pound bomb when the militants opened fire on coalition personnel who were working with MaT militants at the time. According to the after action report, 7 militants were wounded and one Syrian army officer was killed. Prior to this, the Israeli air force targeted Hashd al-Shaabi affiliated forces in Albu Kamal. These Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) were supposedly based out of Iraq but Iraq’s Joint Operations Center (JOC) claimed they had no knowledge of any units operating in that area when the strike occurred. The PMF/Hashd al-Shaabi were officially entered into the Iraqi armed forces but are still comprised of many Iranian supported militias. These militias were targeting and killing United States forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well.
Featured image: Raqqa Internal Security Force Training Class 005 graduates receive their initial issue of equipment after completing their training in Ayn Issa, Syria, July 31 2017. The RISF training program is one way the coalition enables its partners — by building their capacity to provide local security and prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the region. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan